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Thread: The World of the Moon

  1. #41
    祖 Ancestor Flere821's Avatar
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    d'aawwww... that last bit was even better than the havoc that was happening in the kitchen.

    Good job

  2. #42
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    I liked Kohaku's desperate psychic plea for Shiki to save himself - sadly, he really is very dense, isn't he?
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  3. #43
    夜属 Nightkin walrus's Avatar
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    Yeah, I like it too.
    Poor Shiki, he wondered what happened to his cake...

  4. #44
    Pata Hikari: Thanks for the encouragement!

    Kratosirving: Everyone's got their quirks, and that includes Len.

    Flere821: I find humour tends to go well with a little fluff as a garnish.

    Kieran: Shiki wouldn't be Shiki otherwise, would he?

    walrus: Glad you liked it!

    (X)

    The World of the Moon

    (X)

    Eleven: Conclusion

    To be honest, there's not much to say about this.

    Disclaimer: I own nothing.

    (X)

    Deep within the castle, Arcueid's eyes flew open. The chains that she had bound herself with shattered as if they had been made of straw as she jerked violently, pitching herself forward onto the cold stone of the floor.

    Lying spread-eagled on the ground, Arcueid drew in a deep, shuddering breath. The shock that had jolted her to her bones – no, to her very soul – could not possibly be mistaken for anything else. As if to confirm her own suspicions, the roiling wave of nausea that forced itself through her body made it all too apparent.

    Gaia was dying.

    After suffering so long at the hands of humanity's actions, the spirit of the planet itself was beginning to fade. As Arcueid shakily pulled herself to her feet, she gritted her teeth.

    She knew Gaia. She knew what its final demand would be.

    Almost on cue, a slow pounding appeared in her head, and Arcueid feel to his knees, hands clutching the sides of her head as her face screwed up in agony.

    I AM DYING. THE NATURE OF THIS VERY PLANET SHALL SOON FADE.


    "Hah… hah…" Gasping for breath, Arcueid pulled herself back. The planet had never spoken directly to her before, never made such public demands. There would be only one reason.

    HUMANITY MUST NOT OUTLIVE THE VESSEL THAT SIRED IT.


    DESTROY THEM, ARCHETYPE. DESTROY THOSE WHO HAVE GROWN DISTANT FROM ME.


    DESTROY THEM.


    "I…. will… not!" Forcing her words out through a clenched throat, her defiant statement turned into a cry of pain as the pressure on her head increased tenfold. A trembling weakness seemed to fill her entire body, and spikes of red hot pain lanced through her skull.

    YOU ARE THE ARCHETYPE OF EARTH, CREATED TO PROTECT AND TO SERVE THE WILL OF GAIA. MY WILL.


    I TELL YOU ONCE MORE. DESTROY THEM.


    "No," reduced to a crawling heap on the floor, Arcueid shook her head, every word forced out of her mouth by a supreme effort of will. "No. I will. Never. Raise. My arms. Against. Humans. Nev. Er." A choked sound. For a brief instant, a crimson haze filled her vision.

    DESTROY THEM!


    Urgency and desperation fuelled the words that seared through her brain now, Gaia's horror that humanity could live independent of it now mingling with disbelief that the greatest of the True Ancestors could disobey a direct command.

    DESTROY THEM. IN THE NAME OF THE PLANET, THE SPIRIT WITHIN YOU AND YOUR HERITAGE, I COMMAND YOU. DESTROY HUMANITY.


    "Agh…! Ah!" A hacking cough, and Arcueid could feel her body began to the respond to Gaia's demand, one hand reaching down to steady itself as the body was pulled to her feet.

    "No!" with a desperate cry, Arcueid jerked, teeth seizing down on her treacherous arm and biting deep into her own flesh. Pain flared and she collapsed to the floor again.

    Better… better that I gnaw off every one of my limbs than fulfil Gaia's demand.


    Gaia's command pounded deep into her brain, threatening to erase her sense of reason and self, and to turn her into a mindless force, an extension of Gaia's will. But Arcueid was no stranger to resisting the urge for carnage.

    After all, she had spent millennia holding back her bloodlust, rising and surging in ever increasing waves, at bay.

    And so she held on. Wavering on the knife's edge between reason and insanity, Arcueid lay sprawled on the cold floor of the basement of the Millennium Castle, fighting off Gaia's demands for what seemed to be an eternity.

    If Gaia had been in its prime, she could never have disobeyed so direct an order. But the planet, weak as it was, could no longer exert its direct will on the True Ancestor, and the truth of its impotence torched a deep rage within the ashes of its will.

    I SEE.
    The deep voice said after what appeared to be an eternity of silence. YOU, THE TRUE ANCESTORS… THE CRIMSON MOON'S TEMPLATE. YOU WERE FAILURES FROM THE VERY BEGINNING.

    Arcueid did not respond, and instead lay spread-eagled on the floor, listening and panting.

    Finally, with a single desperate cry that carried with it all of the planet's anger and despair and terrified, impotent rage, Gaia died.

    And silence reigned once more within Castle Brunestud, broken only by the pained, shallow gasps of the last True Ancestor.

    (X)

    Tick.


    Tock.


    A feeling of silence permeated the room. It was dimly lit, the furnishings sparse but comfortable.


    In the room, there was a bed. And on the bed was Shiki Tohno, on the brink of death.


    Arcueid sat at his bedside, staring down at his sleeping face, her heart a storm of emotion.


    It wasn't fair. Shiki looked like any other ordinary human in the prime of his life, his features youthful and innocent.


    It wasn't fair that he had to die this young.


    She'd always known… she'd always known that this day would come. But she'd never thought it would come so soon.

    "Hey, Arcueid," a terribly soft voice, so frail that it almost felt like it would be swallowed by the silence of the rest of the room.

    "Shiki?" In an instant, Arcueid was crouched at his bedside, grasping his hand in her own.

    He smiled at her. A terribly peaceful smile.


    "Shiki… don't..."

    She wanted to say 'don't die'. But that was such a ridiculous thing to say. In the first place, death came to everything in existence. But that didn't make her desire any less real.


    "Shiki…" she whispered. "It's too soon, you know? There were still so many things I wanted to do with you." So many places she wanted to go to with him. So many things she wanted to talk to him about.

    "Yeah. It was really fun being with you. But… that's the way things are. From the beginning, there's nothing that could be done about something like that."

    She sucked in a deep breath of air.


    No.

    He's wrong.

    There's something I can do.

    She stared at his face – at the eyes that forever stared with a peculiar intensity, and the thin smile on his lips. A body that was too frail to contain his spirit.


    I could share it with him. My vitality and my will.

    If I don't, he'll go to a place where I can't follow.

    I want to stop him.

    I want to stop him.

    I want to stop him.

    I want to stop him.

    Even if it means laying the ultimate curse on him, I want to stop him, but –

    His face, smiling at me

    It just

    looks

    so peaceful. How can I bring myself to selfishly ruin that?

    Choking back a sob, she leaned in closer again, resting her forehead against his chest. From within, only a faint heat remained.


    "Arcueid," the soft voice again.

    "Shiki?"

    His eyes were closed. The eyes that could see death everywhere would, at the very end, not see his own death approaching. "Thank you. From now on… please, never forget how much fun life can be, okay? Please, go through life with a smile on your face."


    And with that Shiki Tohno breathed out once, a long shallow breath, and died.


    (X)

    Gritting her teeth, Arcueid forced herself back to her feet, wobbling unsteadily.

    Gaia was dead. The existence that had supported hers since the day of her birth, was now gone.

    In the end, all things die.
    Arcueid's laugh was hollow. With the planet dead, any death of her own would now be final too.

    She glanced down at the snapped, scattered chains all across the basement, considering for a long moment to simply returning to silence and slumber.

    But in the depths of her mind, she could remember. The planet's final call.

    Not to herself, but to all the other planets in the solar system.

    Its own agents had refused its final command, and so Gaia had called upon others instead.

    Would the others respond? Most likely. The idea of a race that could exist independent of the planet it had been tied to was as repugnant to them as it had been to Gaia.

    And so, they would respond.

    Maybe not immediately. Most of them were vast distances away, and even for Types it would take a long time to cross the boundaries of space.

    Most of them.

    There was one, however, that posed a real, immediate threat.

    And so, nodding her head and steeling her heart, Arcueid departed the Millennium Castle for the final time.

    As she walked across the withering landscape, she drew in information of the time. Humans had grown, changed, evolved. A war was raging across the planet, pitting humans against humans once more, likely the final catalyst that had pushed Gaia to its death. As all this knowledge and more flowed into her mind, Arcueid simply shook her head.

    There was nothing she could do there.

    She continued her lonely journey across the land, her final destination already known. She did not count the number of nights and days that passed before her. However, as the days were on, she began to notice the signs of the planet's death around her.

    Grass withered. The soil became dry and cracked.

    Rain no longer fell.

    That was only natural. A dead planet could no longer support life.

    And with the death of Gaia, the massive amount of energy contained within it was beginning to rise and flood the atmosphere with pure mana. For humans, this would make the very air poison to them.

    Still, she wondered if perhaps humanity would find their own way to survive in the end. Indeed, the war appeared to be raging harder than ever around her.
    One day, the land she walked on changed. Past the lifeless soil, her next step was on a hard, crystalline substance that blanketed the landscape before her. As soon as she passed through the boundary of the alien world, she felt her body tremble, her senses reacting to being within an environment unlike anything under Gaia.

    Undeterred, she kept walking forward, deeper and deeper into the heart of the impossible structure. In there, her target was waiting.

    Finally, as the setting sun painted the entire scene with a vision of orange and red, she rounded a spire of crystal and came face to face with the one she sought.

    Vast, metallic and spiderlike, ORT perched itself on a mound of solid crystal, its legs clicking together slowly in a grotesque parody of a human's clapping. Blue green fires drifted eternally around its vast form.

    Arcueid stood before it as an ant would stand before an elephant, gazing upon its imperturbable visage.

    Welcome, Archetype Earth.
    The Ultimate One of Mercury stated in a voiceless call that reverberated within her skull. You arrived sooner than I anticipated.

    (X)

    "Shiki, you liar!" With a cry, Arcueid hurled the lamp, letting it smash against the far wall of the room before she sank to her knees.

    "You told me these memories would become precious ones, and I believed you, so…" she huddled on the ground, ignoring Len's worried mews as her body shuddered with sobs.

    Why?

    These were supposed to be my happiest, most important memories, of times spent with Shiki, so…

    Why does it hurt so much now when I remember them?

    She lay on the ground, feeling tears stream down her face as she stared numbly at the far wal.


    "You told me to go through life with a smile on my face," she whispered to the air. "What kind of request is that, Shiki?"

    I don't have the slightest confidence in being able to live like that.

    I don't feel like I'll ever be able to smile again.

    She felt soft paws against her back, and a second later, Len had huddled up into the crook of her body, trying to offer what small comfort she could to her owner. Without thinking, Arcueid reached up and patted the familiar on the back.


    Slowly, as the night wore on, Arcueid drifted off to sleep. And for a moment, in her dreams, she smiled once more.


    (X)

    Arcueid did not respond to ORT, simply staring at him. He had been an alien presence in this land for millennia by the time she had been born, and Gaia had never expressed any problems with having it here. In any case, it had always been dormant.

    Now, though, it twisted and moved with a fluid grace, awakening from a slumber of countless years.

    It had heard Gaia's call, and it would move to fulfil the dead planet's final wish.

    You can understand me, can you not? You are an Ultimate One too, even if a defective one.
    ORT's mind was calm. For it, eliminating all humanity was a duty no different from being told to stamp out a bug that happened to annoy it.

    Born of two contradictory natures, you and your kind could not live without suppressing your power. If not, you would have been able to force humanity back under the sway of Gaia's influence. Truly a tragic comedy.


    "…" Arcueid folded her arms as she stared at the being in front of her. "Do you intend to follow Gaia's final demand?"

    Yes.
    What ORT said could not truly be expressed in any words, but its pulsing will was unmistakeable. Mercury has chosen to answer Gaia's final call. Humanity must not outlive the planet. The Promised Time was always to happen, even from the moment I arrived on this land so long ago.

    Arcueid knew that if it wanted, ORT could reduce every single city on the planet to rubble within the space of a single day – and without moving from its position right now. There would be no effective way for humanity to fight back – if they even could. As they were, humans would be annihilated by ORT easily.

    Her gaze sharpened as she gazed at ORT. "I will not let you."

    Listen to yourself. The planet you draw your power from is dead. You can expect no help from that quarter. Even if you were in your prime, you could not defeat me.


    Arcueid knew what the being in front of her had said was true, but it changed nothing. "Humanity has its own will. You, and the other Types, shall not dictate their death for them."

    Their own will?
    The voice in her mind took on a mocking bent. Even now, they barely pay heed to their own impending end as the engage in a war as destructive as they can make it. Humanity will perish even without our intervention – I am merely accelerating the process.

    "Be that as it may," Arcueid brought her arms down into a battle ready stance. "I will not let you destroy humanity."

    You, born as the avatar of Gaia, would act against its wishes to defend those who ultimately killed it.
    A vast, reverberating sound filled her mind, ORT's equivalent of a derisive laugh. Defective, indeed.

    "Type Mercury," Arcueid's voice was soft. "I will kill you."

    The spider spread its multiple legs, each of them cracking the crystal around it with the sheer force of their thrusts into the ground. Slowly, ponderously, it raised itself above Arcueid, the hellfire that danced along its body growing in size and intensity. Its will focused itself into a single burning point, the intent to annihilate its enemy.

    Die trying.


    Arcueid was not listening, even as she had spoken, she had reached deep within herself, removing the shackles she had placed on her own power. As physical a change as if she had been weighed down by countless heavy chains that were no longer there, she could feel energy she had not tapped into in millennia flood her body.

    And along with it came the pervading crimson haze, the insatiable desire for the blood of humans. Vast and uncontrollable, it raged through her, a roar calling her to hunt, destroy, slaughter.

    But it would not matter. Exerting her will, Arcueid Brunestud, the last True Ancestor, focused all her strength, her rage, her destructive ability on the being in front of her.

    After this, her bloodlust that had plagued her for so long would no longer matter.

    Because.

    This was the end.

    Win or lose.

    This battleground would be the place where Arcueid Brunestud died.

    (X)

    "Miss Blue."

    The Sorceress glanced up, and an easy smile appeared on her face as she caught sight of Arcueid. "Hello there, True Ancestor. This is the first time we've really met, isn't it? I wished it could have been in happier circumstances, though."


    They were at Shiki's funeral. The eulogy had been given, the casket had been sent off for cremation. There hadn't been very many people there at all – Little Sister and the maids, Ciel, Sion, his friend from school, the family he'd lived with before.


    And the Sorceress Aoko Aozaki, the person who had taught Shiki how to live his life as best he could.


    "I agree. Shiki had always wanted to meet you again, even after that night."

    "Mm," Blue's answer was noncommittal as she looked at the ground.

    Silence for several uncomfortable seconds, until Arcueid spoke up again.


    "Miss Blue, I would like to ask you a question."

    "Mm?" She raised an eyebrow. "What is it, then?"

    "When will I die?"

    She blinked. "Huh?"


    "If anyone should know, it is the wielder of the Fifth Magic," Arcueid's gaze was hard. "Please tell me."

    The Sorceress let out a long, deep sigh. When she looked up again, Arcueid could see a deep sadness in her eyes. "Arcueid," she said, using her name for the first time. "I don't use the Fifth for such things. And you should not ask me to."


    "I see," Arcueid closed her eyes. "I cannot know when I am to pass on, then."

    "I wouldn't say that," Blue shrugged her shoulders. "Those who have experienced death tend to be able to feel it when it comes a second time. I think that would apply in your case."

    "I understand," she nodded once.

    And then there was silence amongst the two.


    (X)

    Arcueid took the offensive, releasing a flurry of slashes with her claws. Each blow had the power behind it to shatter a mountain, and indeed the landscape around ORT was smashed open, crystalline shards thrown into the air to reflect the world in a bewildering array of golden sparkles.

    ORT withstood the blows in silence, his metallic skin not showing even a dent, and then a single shining burst of light sprouted forth from its body, almost too fast for Arcueid to even perceive, and she whirled to the side, releasing another wild slash from her claws.

    More crystals now, whirling through the air, reflecting ORT's blasts of energy in a blinding array that kept Arcueid dodging, a ghostly blur as she kept up her own assault on Type Mercury from all angles. Every movement she made caused sonic booms to rip through the air, her attacks so many times faster than the speed of sound.

    No visible damage whatsoever, although she'd never really expected any. Focusing, Arcueid shifted the nature of her assault on the Ultimate One.

    The air around ORT instantly froze solid, and even as ORT moved to shatter the ice, a wave of burning heat seared through the area, so intense that the air itself burst into flame – only to be instantly extinguished by an exertion of ORT's will.

    Agh.
    Arcueid stepped back, batting aside a strike from ORT as she paused to take measure of her opponent. In here, it's… Mercury. The Crystal Valley means I can't use my powers at their full. An ironic smile. What am I saying? Gaia is dead. I can't use my powers at their full no matter what.

    Blut die Schwester


    Focusing, Arcueid called on her status as the avatar of the earth, overwriting the surrounding landscape with her own reality – that of Gaia. Around her, a patch of land appeared that was neither the stark crystal of Mercury nor the dead sand of Gaia – but a fertile, patch of rich soil bursting with life.

    A tiny island in a sea of vast crystal, but there all the same.

    Hm. As expected.
    ORT did not shift its position. The very last spark of Gaia's life rests within you, the last of the True Ancestors. It almost seems a waste to destroy it along with you.

    From her had come this land, and from this land she drew in new power of her own. Focusing, Arcueid released another burst of energy, this was so charged with power that it was visible in the darkening gloom.

    What-
    ORT shifted, countering the strike – as the two attacks collided, the clouds above parted, the sheer energy of the diverted attack reaching up into the skies.

    Is there a full moon tonight?
    Arcueid wondered as she charged, continuing her furious assault, unwilling to give ORT any opening. I can't remember. Would it matter?

    Enough.
    A single word from Type Mercury, and suddenly, the world around her roiled over, the crystalline landscape twisting at ORT's command to strike at her. Caught off guard, Arcueid managed to evade one, two strikes, and the third, a blade with an edge no wider than a molecule, took her right hand off at the wrist.

    "Ah-!" Thrown off balance, an energy blast from ORT caught Arcueid head on and she was sent sprawling. Damage that would have been trivial for her to recover from when the planet was alive was now debilitating enough for her to be unable to move for several vital seconds.

    And suddenly ORT was directly in front of her, its vast bulk having covered the space in between them in the space of a second. From its body a vast maw appeared.

    Rejoice, Archetype Earth. I will consume you, and what power there is in you shall go towards fulfilling your planet's last command.
    Gritting her teeth, Arcueid released a burst of energy at ORT as she jumped back, seeking to get away.

    You cannot escape.
    More and more crystals, hexagonal in shape, began to float around her, trapping her in an inescapable web of ORT's energy, and an immense pressure from above forced her down, slamming her hard into the unyielding crystal floor. It is over.

    (X)

    "I've got to hand it to you," Arcueid muttered.

    There was no response. Of course there wouldn't be.


    "You'd always wanted a death like that, didn't you?" The True Ancestor stared down at the silent tombstone.

    "And in the end you got it. And I'm left alone again." Arcueid shrugged.

    "Well, I hope that you found your peace in the end, Ciel."

    Why was she talking to a gravestone? It wasn't like Ciel could hear her or anything. In the end, it was just another pointless thing.


    She'd learnt to do pointless things a lot more often than before, it seemed.


    She wondered what Ciel's last moments had been like. Briefly, a thought fluttered through her mind that it would have been good for her to be at Ciel's side when she had passed on.


    Still, that was something she couldn't do anything about now. All she could was sit by Ciel's tombstone.


    In many ways, that wasn't so bad.


    And so she sat there, staring up at the endless blue sky.


    (X)

    Time was still as Arcueid stood within the silver castle.

    "What is this?" the voice was bored, mocking.

    Complete stillness within her heart.

    Arcueid Brunestud looked up, and saw herself, and yet not herself.

    The being stood staring at her with cold eyes.

    "Not… now…" Arcueid whispered.

    "At the very end, when a perfect replica of my being approaches my power, I am reborn," Crimson Moon continued. "But to a dead, barren earth? So much like the one where I was first killed. Truly an ironic fate, would you not say so, my child?"

    Arcueid grimaced and shifted her attention away. "Leave me alone," she gasped. "Let me get back to the fight. I have to-"

    Protect humanity.


    "You will fail," Brunestud's voice was clear and emotionless. "I at the height of my power would not be able to defeat the Ultimate One of Mercury. And you are not as powerful as I am, child. Not yet."

    "I don't care," Arcueid's bared her teeth. "I'll protect humanity from it. Alaya's Counter Force can't do it – I'm the – only one…" She trailed off, feeling a white heat surge through her body.

    Why? Why now?


    "Even if you do by some chance defeat the Ultimate One of Mercury, there will be others. Will you stand in their way, then?" A thin smile graced Crimson Moon's lips. "You know as well as I do that you will grow weaker every day as Gaia's power fades. And you have foreseen your own death tonight."

    "…" Arcueid fell to her knees, feeling a dizziness well up in her as Brunestud continued speaking in clear tones.

    "What is that you fight for, child? To protect a humanity that cannot survive much longer anyway? Let us hear your answer."

    "Because," Arcueid gasped. "It. Is the right thing… to do." Fighting the roaring in her ears, she staggered to her feet again. "It doesn't matter how difficult it may be or what the final result is. I won't let Humanity suffer such a death."

    Abruptly, the pressure in her mind vanished. Brunestud shook her head and turned away.

    "An impossible child, in the end. Do as you will. I've no need to rule a barren rock," slowly she began to fade away into the darkness. Before the shadows swallowed her completely, she paused.

    "Hm. Let us see how the both of you fare within a different environment, shall we?"

    A different environment?


    "Have you forgotten, child?" just as Brunestud disappeared into the shadow, Arcueid could see a predatory smile on the Crimson Moon's face. "You are unique – a Type that can draw power from two celestial beings."

    And then suddenly Arcueid was back in the valley of crystal, facing ORT once more. Almost everything about the encounter was the same, except…

    Except that high overhead shone a crimson moon.

    Interesting. Type Moon exists within you as well.


    "Ha…" Even as Arcueid took in a deep breath, she could feel new power filling her body. ORT appeared affected in a different manner, the red rays creating an oppressive atmosphere for a being that had come from a planet with no moon.

    Pausing a brief moment, Arcueid released a burst of her own power that tore through the energy web ORT had wound around her, allowing her to struggle back to her feet. She glanced down at her arm as blood flowed and flesh regrew itself, regenerating her hand back into place as if she had never been wounded at all.

    Taking another deep breath, Arcueid prepared to continue the battle.

    (X)

    Little Sister had died peacefully.

    That, according to Kohaku, was unusual for members of the Tohno bloodline – their demon blood had usually awakened in them, forcing them into various horrible fates. But for Little Sister it was different.


    She'd married some person whose name Arcueid could never be bothered to remember, mostly for the sake of political and business connections. Sometimes she wondered why Little Sister had decided to chain herself down like that, but she'd never got around to asking her to her face.


    She'd given birth to a pair of children, bundles of joy who'd always looked forward to visits from their 'Aunty Arc'. It was through visiting them and playing with them, leading them through the woods around the Tohno Mansion that Arcueid had finally began to laugh again.


    And then one day she'd knocked on the door to Little Sister's room, only to have no response. When she entered, she'd seen Little Sister still in the bed, looking for the entire world as if she were merely asleep.


    In contrast to Shiki's funeral, Little Sister's ceremony had been packed to overflowing. Arcueid, for her part had simply stood at the back, watching as yet another person passed out from her life, an uneasy feeling in her chest.


    She'd continued her visits to the mansion, making courtesy calls on Kohaku and Hisui and playing with little Shiki and Akira until that day.


    When halfway in the middle of a game of tag, Arcueid had suddenly noticed how soft and vulnerable the children's necks looked, how easy it would be for her to seize them and bite down and- and –


    With a cry of fear Arcueid had leapt away from the children, clearing the wall of the Tohno mansion in a single bound. Ignoring their startled cries from behind her, she fled the mansion.


    She never appeared before them again. Returning to the Millennium Castle, she had finally sealed herself up once more, to wait for the end.


    (X)

    The boost the crimson moon provided her was a substantial one. Arcueid could move faster, hit harder, and keep up with ORT's attacks. Her regenerative powers were improved too – what wounds she received quickly sealed themselves away, allowing to keep up the offensive.

    But she knew it still wasn't enough to beat it. She just didn't have the firepower. It was still stronger than her.

    "Ssssst!" Focusing, Arcueid struck down on the outer hide of ORT with all her might, focusing the energy of her blow into a drilling motion that tore apart the material. Before ORT could heal the wound, Arcueid summoned chains from the Millennium Castle, sending them into the tear and damaging ORT still further.

    Your will is impressive.
    ORT acknowledged simply, and with a jab of its leg sent Arcueid flying, minus most of her torso. But you cannot defeat me like this.
    He was right, Arcueid knew. She could not defeat ORT, as long as he stood within the boundaries of his Crystal Valley. So, how-

    Another volley of crystal fire from ORT. Already regenerated, Arcueid dodged two of the blasts, deflected a third to send it flying back at ORT, and brought her hands up to block a blow from the last one.

    As long as I win this fight, it doesn't matter what happens to me, so -


    Putting everything into this one final push, Arcueid charged. As she did so, she focused, the still air forming themselves into a monstrous hurricanes, howling winds that whipped itself all around the colossus.

    What are you-
    ORT briefly expressed surprise.

    Her strongest blow yet – not intended to damage ORT, but simply to distract it for a precious, vital moment.

    The way Brunestud had intended to retake control of her when her powers reached her peak was via a reality marble that she had implanted within the soul of every True Ancestor on the planet, which would manifest itself when one had reached her level in power.

    Arcueid had reached that level now, and so, the reality marble had begun to grow. Closing her eyes, Arcueid reached within herself.

    The World of the Moon


    The surrounding land changed, instantly. This time, the crystal world dissolved itself, a dry dead sea of grey spreading out across the surroundings. In such close proximity to a newly created environment of the moon, Arcueid felt yet more power flow through her.

    Clever. But –
    ORT steeled itself, the air around it sharpening as the creature focused on manifesting the environment that had spawned it. The ground was already beginning to change again, shifting back from the dead wasteland into hardened, shining rock. But for now, for a few precious seconds – ORT was not affected by its Crystal Valley.

    Brunestud, can you hear me?
    I don't know what will happen to me after I do this, but… just for a moment, the powers of Moon's Ultimate One – lend it to me.

    It was a gamble. Brunestud had manifested itself before Arcueid, which could only mean that the time for her revival was nigh. But Brunestud had decided to hold off on the final step for whatever reason, and so Arcueid was still in control.

    But their souls were undeniably merging. With it brought pain and a loss of self – but with it brought power that she could never wield before. Focusing, she put a shape to her mind.

    Alt Nagel


    A sound like a roaring beast rocked the air around them, a crackling light that danced all across Arcueid's body as she forced herself into channelling this new power. Pain exploded across every nerve in her body as she forced her entire self and will into using this single attack. Muscles twisted and frayed, blood vessels writhed and tore apart, and white agony smashed into her brain, but still she held on, for the single vital moment.

    From the sky, a blinding pillar of wind roared down, a 'nail' of heaven designed to instantly obliterate anything it struck. Caught in the very centre of the monstrous blast, even ORT's armoured hide could not withstand the sheer power of the attack for more than a fleeting moment. With a shriek of rending metal, ORT's defences were blown apart, its physical shell annihilated in a single instant. An inhuman scream of pain rent the night air, seemingly reverberating without end.

    And then, a still, small voice.

    Power enough to erase my existence... Most impressive, Archetype Earth.


    Physical damage was almost meaningless to a Type. Almost. But without any body, ORT would have no choice but to return to the planet that had birthed it in order to draw more power to rebuild its shattered frame.

    "You… cannot… stay any longer," Arcueid whispered. "Your existence… Your concept may remain, but not on this planet. Begone."

    There was only silence in reply. Arcueid fell to the ground, feeling the world spin, and a creeping darkness wash over her.

    Of course. That was to be expected. Channelling power that wasn't even mine to use… that's as far as I can go.


    She could no longer feel any pain. Her body had begun to shut down, unable to sustain itself any longer.

    She lay on the ground, feeling the life slowly drain from her as she stared up at the crimson moon.

    "That's right…" she whispered. I did what I came to do. To the very end – destroying someone who only destroyed in turn. "So… disappearing like this might be… good… after all."

    With that, she closed her eyes.

    And Arcueid Brunestud, last of the True Ancestors, died.

    (X)

    Somewhere.

    What does it take to make a miracle?


    Somewhere, there is a land where the trees bear silver fruit.

    What lies beyond death? Beyond the soul? Beyond even the Void?


    A lake with crystal-clear water, in the middle of an endless field of grass and softly shining flowers, all under a starry sky.

    What does it mean to see eternity?


    A male, somewhat a boy, somewhat a man, sat by the side of the lake, waiting.

    Perhaps he had been waiting for an hour.

    Perhaps he had been waiting forever.

    It was hard to tell, sometimes. Time did not flow. The stars did not change. The grass wavered endlessly in the eternal breeze.

    One day, he knew, sunrise would come.

    But for now, he waited.

    And as he waited, he remembered.

    "Hey, Shiki," Arcueid's voice called to him from behind.

    "Hm? What is it?" he turned to look at her. "Is anything wrong? I thought you wanted to get to the movie theatre early."

    "Yeah, I do, but…" she glanced to the side. “Shiki, what do you think about death?"

    "…What?" Shiki touched a hand to his forehead and sighed. "What's with you always coming up with the worst times to ask strange questions like this? In the first place, someone like you who can't even die shouldn't be asking this sort of thing."

    "That's not true, of course I can die!" Arcueid cocked her head to the side. "Or have you forgotten that you killed me before?"

    "You're never going to let me forget," Shiki muttered under his breath. "But anyway, that was special. You yourself were the one who told me about how my eyes were so monstrous."

    "Well, yeah, but – even under normal circumstances I'll die one day," Arcueid said as she walked up beside him. "I draw power from the planet, you know. And it's a lot weaker now than it was eight hundred years ago, thanks to the actions of humans. So logically, one day, when the planet is too weak, it'll die, and then I'll be able to die too."

    "That's a pretty long way off into the future," Shiki sighed and glanced at Arcueid. "So why are you asking this now?"

    Arcueid glanced down at the ground. "I was thinking more about you, Shiki. Your health's been getting worse, lately, so…"


    "You're right. No matter what happens, I'll die long before you do," Shiki said as he looked up at the night sky. "I've accepted that already, though."

    "I guess so," Arcueid said without much enthusiasm.

    They walked in silence for several more seconds before Arcueid turned to face him again. "Hey, Shiki?"


    "Huh?"

    "When I die, will I get to see you again?"

    "Huh? How can I possibly answer that? I don't even believe in an afterlife or anything like that, Arc."

    "It's okay if you don't. But if you're wrong and there is one… would we meet again?"

    "I don't know," he finally admitted. "But I'd try. If I could, I'd definitely want to see you again."

    "All right," she smiled and nodded. "Then, let's promise. Even after we die, no matter how long it takes, we'll try to meet each other again."

    "…" He smiled and nodded back. "All right, I promise. No matter how long it takes."

    He had been waiting for a long time.

    But he had also promised that he would never break a promise with her again.

    Bound only by a promise, he had sat here, waiting.

    Perhaps.


    Waiting.

    Perhaps something as simple as a promise.


    For as long as it took.

    Perhaps something as simple as the union of two wills, of two souls.


    Even in the complete silence, in the complete stillness, Shiki Tohno could say with absolute sincerity that he was drowning in bliss.

    Perhaps that is all it takes to achieve a miracle.


    And then.

    There was the rustle of grass as a shoe stepped on it, and Shiki Tohno gazed towards his left.

    Dressed in white, with golden hair down to her shoulders.

    Long, slender eyebrows over crimson eyes.

    The figure he could never mistake for anyone else no matter what. A person he had left behind long ago.

    For a while, there was only silence, as the two of them stared at each other. Then, Shiki Tohno stood up as Arcueid Brunestud walked over.

    “So you were waiting for me, after all,” her voice was soft.

    He closed his eyes, smiled and nodded. “Well, a certain nagging hen would have been cross with me if I wasn’t here when she showed up.”

    Her laugh was like bubbling water from a brook, clear and crystal. “That’s true, too.”

    A silence fell upon the two of them suddenly, the two of them simply looking at each other. Then Shiki took a deep breath.

    "Welcome back, Arcueid," he said softly, speaking from the heart. "I've… been waiting a really long time."

    "Yes," she nodded. "I'm back. I'm glad I was able to see you again, Shiki."

    A single moment, pregnant with expectation.

    And suddenly he found that he had drawn her into a hug, her body pressed close to his, and her arms were coming up around him as well –

    The two of them stood there in the moonlight, simply basking in the quiet joy of being able to meet again. Later, Shiki thought. Later he would bring Arcueid over the hills, to the city that lay beyond, where there were so many people waiting for the both of them –

    But for now, it was just the two of them, two lovers reunited at long last at the end of eternity.

    (X)

    Thanks for reading this story.

    Hm, I don't think I'm too good with fight scenes like these.

    In any case, I'd appreciate it if you left me some reviews for the work.

    Next: Magical White Moon Princess Phantasmoon versus the Black Beast Coulter

  5. #45
    Former Fortissimo Fan TLer Kratosirving's Avatar
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    I don't care if you don't think you did well with the battle between ORT and Arc. The whole story was fucking beautiful.
    Last edited by Kratosirving; October 22nd, 2011 at 08:20 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elf View Post
    I've always done and said what I feel and I don't let the opinions of others guide my actions. I've always marched to the beat of my own drummer and I will always march to the beat of my own drummer.

  6. #46
    祖 Ancestor Flere821's Avatar
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    *sniff*

    Beautiful. Sad, yet very well written nonetheless. That was a good ending too.

  7. #47
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    This is one of the best pieces I've read - period. I bow to the master of the Shiki x Arc pairing.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  8. #48
    夜属 Nightkin walrus's Avatar
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    Yes, this is...masterful.

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    祖 Ancestor reborn214's Avatar
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    Arc's true happy ending

  10. #50
    Kratosirving: Ha. Thanks for the vote of confidence!

    Flere821: Glad you liked the story, and the ending.

    Kieran: Master? Wow, thanks. That's pretty high praise coming from someone doing all those long Trinity stories.

    walrus: Thanks for the encouragement!

    reborn214: Ending? Nah, it's a new beginning for the both of them! Happy, though. Yes indeed.

    (X)

    The World of the Moon

    (X)

    Twelve: White Moon Princess Phantasmoon vs the Black Beast Coulter

    Well, here we are. Part two of the Phantasmoon saga.

    Disclaimer: I own nothing.

    (X)

    “Absolutely NOT.” Akiha’s was using that voice again. The voice that could effectively shut down any argument or discourse around her, leaving her free to make her proclamations unchallenged.

    Nevertheless, Shiki stood his ground. “Why not, Akiha? It’s only for a couple of days, and we’ve more than enough rooms in the mansion.”

    “Because,” Akiha’s glare had sharpened as she raised her teacup to her lips. “In case you have forgotten, we know nothing about that woman. Where she comes from, what she’s doing while dressed like that, or anything else that would be useful.”

    That, Shiki reflected, was not entirely true. He did indeed know quite a bit about Arcueid’s motives and reasons for being here, it was just that he believed mentioning them would be counterproductive to his goal of getting Arcueid a room in the mansion for the next few days.

    “She’s just come from out of town, and she’s had some trouble securing a room, that’s all,” Shiki half-lied. Stripping as much context from your sentence as possible didn’t count as a full lie, did it?

    “You appear to be arguing very stridently for someone you claim to barely know, Nii-san,” suspicion leaked from Akiha’s voice.

    Yeah, it’s true that I barely know her, Shiki thought to himself, but it’s also true that I wronged her. And I was taught that I always have to take responsibility for my mistakes. So…

    “It’s because I don’t want to turn her out into the cold, Akiha,” Shiki said. “We have a chance to help her out, so I think we should take it.”

    “Indeed. Well, I remain certain that she should be able to secure lodgings for herself without undue trouble even if I don’t open up a guest room for her, so-“

    “Akiha, please, think about this-“

    “That’s enough, Shiki.” The voice came from behind him, and Akiha and Shiki turned to regard Arcueid standing in the doorway of the room, arms folded.

    “I know where I’m not wanted,” she continued. “So thanks for sticking up for me, but I’ll manage on my own from now on.” As she said that, she turned away and began heading for the front door.

    “Hey – ah, wait a moment!” On an impulse, Shiki broke into a run, catching up to Arcueid just as she rounded the corner.

    “Are you sure about this? I thought it was important to you that you find a place to lay low,” he whispered into her ear.

    She smiled back at him. “Don’t worry about it, Shiki. I’m used to being treated with suspicion. I guess it comes with the job and all.”

    “But that vampire you’re looking for…”

    “He doesn’t know I’m here yet, so with any luck I’ll be able to get my wand repaired before I have to face him,” Arcueid paused and looked at Shiki. “By the way, thanks for what happened back there. Even if you couldn’t convince your sister, I’m glad you tried to intervene on my behalf.”

    “Ah, well…” Shiki pushed the glasses up the bridge of his nose, and for some reason he felt his collar growing warm. “I had to pay you back for breaking your wand, didn’t I? I’m just sorry I couldn’t actually convince my sister.”

    “Well, no worries. I’ll make do.”

    There was a slight pause, and with a cough, Shiki spoke up again. “Well, I’ll see you to the front door. It’s really the least I can do.”

    The two of them walked in silence through the hallways of the mansion, passing by Kohaku who merely raised an inquisitive eyebrow as they strolled by in tandem. Finally, at the front gate of the mansion, Arcueid turned back to Shiki.

    “Well, thanks. I guess this is it.”

    Shiki nodded once. “Yeah… I guess it is. Goodbye.”

    There was silence for the briefest of moments, and then Arcueid turned, heading down the path back into the city as Shiki watched her leave.

    (X)

    Dinner that night was more uncomfortable than was standard for the Tohno family. Both siblings ate in complete silence, neither raising their head to look at the other, while the two maids simply stood at the ready.

    Once his food was finished, Shiki pushed his chair back, “I’m a little tired,” he said without preamble. “I’ll be going to my room now.”

    “Nii-san,” Akiha finally spoke up for the first time since she’d sat down at the dinner table. “Please, wait a moment. I would like to question you further on that girl from this afternoon.”

    “There doesn’t appear to be anything more to the tale than what you already know, Akiha.”

    “Indeed?” there was a cold gleam in his sister’s eye. “A mysterious woman who appears out of the blue carrying an unconscious you home, and later you start campaigning for her to stay in our house. You mean to tell me that there is nothing more to it than that?”

    “The reason I wanted to help her find a place to stay was because she helped me in the first place.” Shiki countered testily. “Like I said, there’s nothing else to this tale, and in any case, the matter’s moot – you’ve already sent her off.”

    Before Akiha or the maids could say anything further, Shiki had turned and strode away from the table.

    (X)

    “Huff… huff…”

    Where did he… where did he come from?

    Rustling in the trees all around. Snapping branches.

    Was he hunting me? Did he know I would be here?

    An attack from the side. Sudden.

    No way to dodge.

    No way to defend.

    “Ah!”

    Pain. So much pain.

    Can’t keep it up like this. Have to… get away…

    But where?

    Only one place.

    Only…

    (X)

    Shiki lay on his bed, staring up at the ceiling. Sleep was not forthcoming for him tonight.

    He was still thinking about the girl who had appeared before him, and who had just as suddenly vanished from his life.

    This is stupid. I’d met her for all of an afternoon, so why can’t I stop thinking about her? She was pretty, true but it wasn’t like that was enough to get him pining for her.

    Wasn’t it?

    Nah, Shiki shook his head. More likely he was just worried about the apparent danger Arcueid was throwing herself into. Danger that would apparently be all the greater because of what he had did.

    And on that note… he sat up in bed, glancing warily at the knife that he had placed on his desk.

    What was that earlier today? Why did I want to hurt Arcueid?

    That feeling that he had when he had caught sight of her was unmistakeable. He had wanted to kill Arcueid.

    That that sudden desire had faded as quickly as it came was good, but it was still troubling him. If it hadn’t been for Arcueid’s transformation into… well, Phantasmoon, he wouldn’t have been distracted, and then he would have…

    “That’s over and done with,” he mumbled to the night air, trying to convince himself. “There’s no more reason to care about that sort of thing.”

    Thump.

    A sound, almost too small to be heard, so soft that Shiki almost wrote it off as nothing more than his imagination.

    “Eh?” Straining his ears, Shiki listened again, trying to catch if there was any other noise.

    Nothing.

    For a moment, he considered simply dismissing the noise and returning to bed, but something in him told him that he might as well check. After all, if it was nothing, then he’d just have wasted a few seconds.

    With a grunt, Shiki stood from his bed and made his way over to the window. As he gazed out of it, his eyes widened in shock and horror.

    There, lying limp and motionless on the grass, was the blood-covered form of –

    “ARCUEID!”

    (X)

    By the time he had made his way down to the front lawn of the mansion, Arcueid had apparently recovered enough strength for her to stand up and to totter a few more steps in the direction of the house. As he hurried over to her, she caught sight of him and gave him an unsteady smile.

    “Oh… hello, Shiki. Sorry to drop… in… unannounced.” She stumbled again and Shiki hurriedly reached out to catch her.

    “Don’t talk, stupid!” he sputtered. “You’re covered in wounds!”

    “Oh, those?” another smile. “Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as… it looks…”

    “The heck it isn’t!” he retorted. “Come on, get inside the mansion and then we can treat your wounds.”

    Before any reply could be made, the door to the mansion was thrown open again, and Kohaku was standing in the doorway, warm orange light streaming over her shoulders.

    “Kohaku!” Shiki called. “Could you get a medical kit ready?”

    Several minutes later, Shiki stood watching impatiently as Kohaku cleaned and dressed Arcueid’s wounds with meticulous care.

    “My, my, Arcueid-san,” Kohaku said cheerily as she continued her work. “These wounds look like they were made from a dog or wolf of some kind. Did you accidentally get into a fight with a guard dog?”

    “Well, not exactly, but-“

    “Kohaku, what’s all the commotion about?” Rounding the corner, Akiha strode into the sitting room, pulling up short as she caught sight of Arcueid being tended to by Kohaku. “What’s all this?”

    “I don’t know, Akiha-sama,” Kohaku answered honestly. “I just heard a noise outside, and when I went to check I saw Shiki-san helping a wounded Arcueid-san into the mansion.”

    “Is that so?” Akiha shot Shiki a look out of the corner of her eye but said nothing. “How serious are those wounds, Kohaku?”

    “Hm. Well, most of them seem rather superficial, but there’s one on her back that’s pretty deep – it’ll take a while for her to recover from that one.”

    “I see,” Akiha’s lowered her head and nodded once. “It appears that I’ll be putting up that room for you after all, Arcueid-san. Hisui, if you please.” At a word from Akiha, the quiet maid bowed once and then left the room quickly.

    “I thought you didn’t want me staying over?” Arcueid questioned as she lifted an arm to let Kohaku put a bandage on it.

    “It is true that I do not trust you,” Akiha said as she gazed steadily at the blonde-haired woman. “Nevertheless I will not turn away someone who is wounded, especially not to such an extent. Make no mistake, however, Arcueid-san. I demand a full explanation for all this when morning comes.” And with that, she turned on her heel to leave the room.

    After Akiha had left, Shiki coughed. “Er, Arcueid? Do you want some water or anything?”

    She smiled gratefully at him. “Actually, that would be nice.”

    As he headed for the kitchen in order to get her the water he wanted, Shiki couldn’t help but wonder about what had occurred. He knew that she was fighting a vampire, and Shiki wasn’t entirely too familiar with how vampires operated, but he had the feeling that they didn’t fight with claws and teeth like animals, which were the wounds that Arcueid were covered with.

    Maybe it was his pet or something?

    By the time he had returned with the glass of water, Kohaku had almost finished her work, and Arcueid accepted the drink gratefully. As she drained the glass, Hisui appeared in the doorway once more.

    “Excuse me, Arcueid-sama. But your room has been prepared. Shall I lead you to it?”

    “Yes, thanks!” another bright smile, and Arcueid was on her feet. “Well, Shiki, Kohaku, thanks for everything. Good night.”

    “Good night,” Shiki waved at her as she left the room. Only then did he realize that Kohaku had come up behind him.

    “Shiki-san? Is there anything… different about Arcueid-san?”

    He tensed at the sudden question. “W – why do you ask, Kohaku?”

    One arm clutched at the other as a rare troubled expression made its way onto her face. “When I told Akiha-sama that one of her wounds was serious, I was not lying. But I had downplayed the severity of the matter. To be honest, it was not something any ordinary human could survive. But in Arcueid-san’s case, she was able to endure this wound without great complaint,” her amber eyes stared deep into his. “Shiki-san, you’re the one who knows her the best, so… is there something special about her?”

    Shiki turned away, remembering the slickness of the blood on Arcueid’s body as he had grabbed onto her. He glanced down at his hands and shirt, still with her dried blood on it. “I’m sorry, Kohaku…” he began.

    “Oh, no need to apologize, Shiki-san!”

    “No, it’s just that I don’t feel like I should reveal her secrets,” he smiled at the maid. “Akiha said that she would be questioning Arcueid tomorrow. If she’s willing to come clean with everything, then I suppose you’ll get your answer then.”

    Kohaku smiled and nodded. “Well, that’s all right, then. As for you, Shiki-san, you should change out of those clothes and get a bath before you get to sleep.”

    “Yeah, I think I’ll do that. Good night, Kohaku.”

    “Good night, Shiki-san.”

    (X)

    Morning found Shiki and Akiha seated at the breakfast table, an unusual tenseness hanging in the air as both of them waited for the newest addition to the household to join them for breakfast.

    “Hisui, please go see what is keeping Arcueid-san,” Akiha finally said as she began to butter one of her slices of toast. “I would very much like to get to the bottom of-“

    “Morning, Shiki!” A cheerful voice sounded and Arcueid had plopped down into an empty seat, a smile on her face. “Morning, Ms Akiha! A great day, isn’t it?”

    “Yes, it most certainly is…” Akiha murmured. “May I ask where you got those new clothes?”

    “Oh, these?” Arcueid look down at herself. A white t-shirt with a sunflower emblem on the right side of her chest coupled with a pair of worn denim jeans combined together to give her a cheerful ‘girl next door’ feel. For a moment, Shiki was reminded of his Sensei. Her sense of clothing had been pretty plain, too. “Hisui lent them to me. She said she doesn’t really wear these kind of normal clothes, so letting me have them was no big deal. They’re a little tight across the chest, but aside from that they’re great! Thanks for that!” she aimed a smile at Hisui.

    “No, it is the duty of a maid to ensure that all guests are comfortable,” Hisui replied as she bowed slightly.

    “Anyway, as you may remember, I told you last night that I wanted the full story out of you,” Akiha’s eyes bored into Arcueid. “Whenever I ask Nii-san about you, he gets evasive. Lying is not one of Nii-san’s great talents, as you can imagine-“

    “Thanks, Akiha.” Shiki muttered.

    “Therefore,” Akiha continued as if she had not heard him. “I must now ask about the truth of your situation. Depending on your answer, I may be willing to put you up for the few more days that you have requested, or I may have to demand that you vacate my house immediately after breakfast. So, Arcueid-san. If you please.”

    “Okay, well… where to begin,” Arcueid tapped her chin thoughtfully. “Okay, the truth is that I’m a Magical Girl.”

    The teacup that had been halfway to Akiha’s mouth froze. “A… what?”

    “Oh, you know,” Arcueid waved her hands vaguely. “One of those warriors of peace and justice, with transformations and sparkles and everything. I’ve been travelling the world the past few years fighting evil wherever I meet it, and so I ended up in Misaki City hunting my latest target. But then Shiki here cut –“ she paused, glanced at Shiki quickly, and shook her head. “Shiki broke my wand by accident, which means that I can’t use a lot of my magic properly now. So I needed a place to stay a few days while I fix my wand. And, after last night, to recover from my wounds as well, I guess.”

    The teacup was trembling now, Shiki noted. Not a good sign.

    “Arcueid-san,” Akiha’s voice was low. “If this is your idea of a joke, I would like to assure you that it is certainly not a good one.”

    “Jeez, you humans are all the same,” Arcueid pouted. “Whenever I tell the truth you always think I’m lying or crazy or something,” then she brightened up. “Well, after last night I’m really running low on my magic, but I can still do this!” and she brought her hand forward, palm up.

    “What are you-“ Akiha’s voice was cut off as a tiny sphere of light formed in Arcueid’s hand.

    With a smile, Arcueid leaned forward and blew on the sphere, sending sparkles of rainbow light all over the dining room in a dazzling array of colour.

    When the sparkles had faded, Arcueid folded her arms and sat back, a rather satisfied expression on her face as she faced the four other people in the dining room. “Well, still think I’m lying, Ms. Akiha?”

    Akiha look at her for a long moment, and then turned to regard her tea. Blowing out a deep breath, Akiha, brought the drink to her lips and swallowed the entirety of the cup’s contents at once.

    Then she stood, her breakfast apparently forgotten. “I will give you my answer by the end of today,” she said tonelessly as she strode off towards her own room.

    “Yeah, after I reveal my magic to them they tend to do that too,” Arcueid mused as she stroked her chin.

    (X)

    Arcueid yawned and stretched as she stared out the window. After Shiki had departed for school, she had been left in the mansion with nothing much to do. Well, accept trying to fix Alt, but right now she was a little too distracted for that.

    Mostly with trying to explore the mansion. Since Akiha had more or less given her free run of the place now, Arcueid was spending her morning poking around the household, finding out more about the place.

    “You seem unusually interested in the place, Arcueid-san,” Kohaku said as she passed Arcueid in the hallway, a broom in hand. “Are you not used to mansions of this sort?”

    “Well, no, not really. I mean, I’ve been in some big houses before, but I always liked seeing the decorations and paintings that each individual owner would put up,” Arcueid’s smile was wide. “Sometimes all the stuff has personal meaning to the owner, and sometimes it’s just there as a status symbol, but it’s always fun to see those things!”

    “Ahaha…” Kohaku’s chuckled into her sleeve. “Well, Arcueid-san. If you like, I can give you a more guided tour later after my duties for the day have been finished.”

    “Got it! Thanks, Kohaku!” Arcueid continued her way down the mansion, pausing only when she saw Hisui exiting a room.

    “Good morning, Arcueid-sama,” Hisui bowed slightly.

    “Good morning, Hisui,” Arcueid returned the greeting. “What’s in that room?”

    “Oh, that is Shiki-sama’s personal room,” Hisui glanced behind her. “I have just finished cleaning it for the day.”

    “Shiki’s room, huh…” Arcueid cupped her chin again. It’s facing the side where I collapsed last night. I guess that’s why he was able to respond so quickly. She blinked. Oh yeah, I haven’t thanked Shiki for coming to help me last night. I should do it when he gets home later.

    And so she continued on her merry way.

    (X)

    I’ll have to thank Arcueid for not revealing the weirdness of my eyes to Akiha. Shiki thought as he trudged up the hill that led to his new home. I guess she realized I was never very comfortable thinking about that sort of thing.

    As he walked, he couldn’t help but wonder about Akiha’s final verdict. Arcueid had still kept some details from Akiha, such as the fact that her current target was a vampire, although Shiki didn’t see it as being particularly relevant.

    The fact remained that while Arcueid was badly in need of shelter right now, her remaining at the mansion would also be a danger to everyone else in the area.

    As temperamental as Akiha was, would she err on the side of caution or compassion in the end? Having just been reintroduced to his sister after an absence of eight years, Shiki was honestly at a lost as to what she would ultimately choose.

    Thump. Clang.

    Patter.

    Blinking, Shiki glanced down the alleyway he had just passed by. Had he just seen… shapes flitting through the gloom?

    Silence.

    No. Shiki shook his head. Maybe it was just a stray cat or something.

    With a sigh, he continued up the hill back to the mansion.

    (X)

    “Excuse me,” Arcueid asked politely, “but do you know when Ms Akiha will be back?”

    “It’s not always easy to say,” Kohaku chuckled. “Akiha-sama’s business always calls her out at the most esoteric hours. She assured me that she would be home in time for dinner tonight, though.”

    “I see.” And at the moment, the front doors to the mansion swung open, and Hisui stepped in, carrying Shiki’s briefcase. Following closely behind her was-

    “I’m home,” Shiki called.

    “Oh, Shiki!” Arcueid smiled at him. “It’s good to see you again!”

    “Ah – yeah, you too,” Shiki replied after a brief pause. “Arcueid, would you mind following me for a while? There’s something I need to talk about.”

    “Hm? Okay then,” nodding, Arc trotted after Shiki into the kitchen, where he turned to face her.

    “Now, I just wanted to make sure, but… those wounds you got last night, were they from the vampire you were hunting?”

    “Oh, no,” Arcueid shook her head. “To be honest, I wasn’t expecting that attack at all. Someone must be deliberately trying to hunt me down.”

    A troubled expression was now on Shiki’s face. “Well, in that case, who – or what – was it that attacked you?”

    “I’m still not sure. I have a guess, but to be honest, there are a large number of vampires out there that would use familiars, especially common ones like wolves and dogs. The one I’m hunting doesn’t, though.”

    “Wolves and dogs…” Shiki murmured.

    “Shiki?”

    “I think I heard something following me on the way back home, today,” he said by way of explanation. “At first I thought it was just a stray cat or something, but then I remembered your wounds.”

    “You think they might have realized that I’ve come here,” Arcueid said, her expression sharpening. “Well, in that case, I’ll have to-“

    “Don’t be stupid,” he countered testily. “You yourself told me this morning that you can barely do any magic anymore. You won’t be able to fight them off.”

    “Ah, yeah, but…” she trailed off, glancing at the ground.

    Shiki sighed, and, not meeting her gaze, ran a hand through his hair. “I’ll do it.” He mumbled softly.

    “Eh?”

    “I said that I’ll do it. I might be able to handle the dogs since I can see their lines.” He explained.

    “But they’re after me, not you,” Arcueid shook her head. “Shiki, you yourself told me that you’re not a fighter. You won’t be able to fight them off.”

    “But I have to try,” his gaze had hardened. “Arcueid, it’s because of me that you can’t use your magic right now. So, I have to make up for that, won’t I?”

    “…” Arcueid gritted her teeth. While she had certainly planned on making Shiki her partner, that had been done on the unspoken assumption that he was a decent fighter. The time she had spent in his vicinity had been enough to convince her that he was no such thing.

    She glanced out the window at the fading sunlight. There was still time. Vampires would not move actively until deep nightfall. She let out a deep breath.

    There was still time.

    She could hear the front door opening, and Kohaku’s voice.

    “Oh, Akiha-sama! Just in time! Dinner’s nearly ready to be served!”

    (X)

    The tension around the table was even thicker than it had been in the morning. With both Arcueid and Akiha apparently having something important to say, there was only the unspoken issue of which one of them would go first.

    Finally, laying her fork down on the table, Akiha took in a deep breath. “Arcueid-san, concerning your request to stay at our mansion, I have reached a decision on that matter.”

    “I see,” Arcueid nodded as she sat up straight. “Well, as it happens, I’ve something to say regarding the matter as well.”

    “Do you?” Akiha raised an eyebrow. “Then, by all means, let us-“

    The window to the mansion shattered with a crash and a dark shape rocketed into the room, making a beeline for Arcueid.

    “Down!” Arcueid snapped as she pushed the stunned Hisui out of the way before dodging to the side as well.

    I’d miscalculated. Arcueid thought frantically as she turned to face the beast. I’d thought they’d only operate at night. But if they’re able to launch an attack while there’s still some daylight, then… it’s even worse than I thought. Only one of them has the strength to accomplish this.

    The hound trained its burning eyes on her, the black fur all along its body tense as it prepared to leap a second time. Frantically, Arcueid brought her hands together to prepare a defensive spell, already knowing it was useless. The beast had managed to tear through a far stronger shield yesterday, and Arcueid simply hadn’t had the time to recover.

    The hound leapt at her, jaws already opening to clamp down on her throat.

    Except that one of its hind legs was now a shrivelled husk that could not support any weight.

    With a yelp of surprise, its misaligned leap sent it crashing into the dining table, sending cutlery all around the room in a shower of crashes and clatters. Arcueid whipped her gaze about frantically. Who-

    Standing calmly at the far end of the room, Akiha stared at the beast with cold, merciless eyes. Arcueid blinked. Since when had Akiha’s hair been red?

    Then, she felt almost-imperceptible threads of energy flowing through the air, targeting the beast again – except that the dog was now prepared. Howling with rage, it charged straight at Akiha, its strength allowing it to close the distance quickly even with only three functioning legs. She was hit hard and sent sprawling, and the hound followed up on its attack, baring its fangs and preparing to bite down hard on her neck.

    “No!” with a cry, Arcueid leapt after the beast, her magic forgotten. Landing on the surprised monster’s back, Arcueid managed to pull the beast back from Akiha, even though her decreased strength made holding on to the hound a challenge.

    It was then that she saw Shiki running up to them, knife held at the ready. Distantly, a part of her mind saw that he wasn’t wearing his glasses.

    With a quick slice, the chest of the monster was torn open, and it collapsed to the floor, its struggles growing feebler by the second until finally it ceased.

    A moment later, the creature turned into a viscous black goo that quickly melted away, earning a visible start of surprise from Hisui.

    There was a silence in the room for several long moments, broken only by the sound of heavy breathing from everyone in the room. Finally, Akiha stood, and began brushing off debris from her clothing.

    “As I was saying before we were so rudely interrupted,” she continued smoothly. “Arcueid-san, you may stay within this mansion for as long as you wish.”

    “Eh? Huh?” Arcueid blinked as she stared up at Akiha from her position on the floor. “Are you serious? But… this is… I’m a target now. Like what just happened! If I stay here, it’ll only drag the rest of you into the conflict! That’s why I wanted to tell you I don’t need this place anymore.”

    “Yes,” Akiha nodded. “I acknowledge the danger that is posed by your presence here. However, I’ve consulted both Kohaku and Hisui and we have agreed that turning you out into the cold is not an acceptable compromise,” her face took on a more annoyed bent. “I didn’t need to ask Nii-san, since I already knew what his answer would be.”

    Taking a step forward, Akiha leaned forward and reached out a hand to help pull Arcueid back to her feet. And at the same time, a rare gentle smile showed on her face.

    “Welcome to the Tohno Mansion, Arcueid-san. I hope you’ll enjoy your stay here.”

    (X)

    It was several hours later that Arcueid paused as she stood on the balcony of this room.

    She was thinking.

    If it attacked me while there was still sunlight, it could only come from him. But in that case his usual method would be to overwhelm his opponent with as many of his beasts as possible. Sending a single hound, even if it was a really powerful one, is totally against his methods.

    Unless he didn’t intend to attack me at all. The same as last night, there was just this one beast.

    A forward scout, then? After seeing how weak I was, did it decide to try to finish me off on itself?

    Arcueid couldn’t be sure. And because she couldn’t be sure, she couldn’t take a risk. She needed to-

    “I hope you’re not thinking of running off by yourself.” Shiki’s voice came from behind her.

    Arcueid turned to look at Shiki. “My presence here is a danger to all of you, Shiki,” she said softly. “Before, when I thought that the enemy didn’t know I was here yet, I could stay here and keep hidden while rebuilding my power. But now that’s not an option.”

    “Then tell me what you plan on doing if you leave and have no place to hide.”

    Arcueid bit her lip. “I… I don’t know,” she finally admitted. “But I can’t keep putting you all in danger.”

    She closed her eyes. “Everything… everything was so much simpler two days ago.”

    As the night wore on, she simply stood there in the night air, with Shiki standing behind her.

    (X)

    “Your tea, Akiha-sama, “ Kohaku bowed as she presented Akiha with a cup of red tea. Akiha nodded and raised the cup to her lips.

    “Tell me, Kohaku. Did you notice, during the fight?”

    “Notice, Akiha-sama?”

    “When Nii-san attacked that monster,” her expression clouded over. “The cut was… unnatural. Far too easy, and far too smooth. There’s something he’s not telling me.”

    Kohaku chuckled. “Akiha-sama, if we’re going down that path, what do you think he thought of you withering the leg of that dog like that?”

    “Yes,” Akiha muttered. “It seems we all have our secrets to keep from each other.”

    “Arcueid-san included, no?” Kohaku said as she collected the empty teacup.

    “Arcueid-san? What about her?” Akiha glanced over at Kohaku.

    “You didn’t notice? This morning, when she demonstrated her magic to us. She called us ‘You humans’.” And with that, Kohaku turned and left the room, taking the tea tray with her.

    (X)

    TO BE CONTINUED

    (X)

    Bah. Such a long chapter, and mostly for setup purposes. Oh well, the next Phantasmoon episode should give the time needed for more Arcueid-in-Tohno-Household hijinks.

    Thank you for reading.

    I would appreciate it if you reviewed.

    Next: Promise

  11. #51
    夜属 Nightkin walrus's Avatar
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    Arcueid-in-Tohno-Household...Mmm I love it.
    But I like Akiha and especially Kohaku in this chapter, too.
    BTW...
    “Good morning, Arcueid-sama,” Hisui bowed slightly.
    Too fast, Hisui (lol).

  12. #52
    Former Fortissimo Fan TLer Kratosirving's Avatar
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    That was a pretty fun chapter, I do say. Nice little fight scene, and now everyone's secrets will come to light. (Well, except the maids, perhaps.)
    Fortissimo EXA//Akkord:Bsusvier Video Walkthrough: COMPLETE (thread here)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elf View Post
    I've always done and said what I feel and I don't let the opinions of others guide my actions. I've always marched to the beat of my own drummer and I will always march to the beat of my own drummer.

  13. #53
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    It'd be interesting to see how you'd use the same setup in the canon universe - but offhand, I don't see anything particularly special about the "Phantasmoon" angle. The writing is the only reason I bothered finishing it. Then again, you did say this was just setup, so I'll wait and see.

    Though I suspect the next one will be more my speed, from the title.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  14. #54
    walrus: One of the things I planned with Phantasmoon was making sure that she didn't hog all the screentime. She's the main character, but everyone else is important too.

    Kratosirving: Thanks. Glad you liked the fight scene - I still think I have a lot of trouble with doing those.

    Kieran: Yes, to be absolutely honest, the more I look at how I want to develop the Phantasmoon storyline, the less I think it'll be suited for posting in a Oneshot repository like this, which means that I'll probably end up leaving it on the backburner soon. Still, I'm glad when someone who doesn't care much for a particular piece of work speaks up - it's always helpful to see what direction to take things in the future, and to help me improve. As to whether this work will be more to your liking, well, I can only hope it is.

    (X)

    The World of the Moon

    (X)

    Thirteen: Promise

    I hope you enjoy this new update more. It’s pretty much pointless, plotless fluff. I like doing that once in a while.

    Chronologically this will take place pretty early in Shiki and Arcueid's relationship. Not that that's particular important, but I just like establishing those kinds of things.

    Disclaimer: I own nothing.

    (X)

    The reason for today was simple.

    They had promised, after all.

    "When this is all over----when we're done defeating this vampire... Before we part, can't we do something like this just once more?"

    It hadn’t been so long ago.

    The two of them, standing in a classroom, lit by the orange rays of the setting sun.

    "Eh----? What do you mean?"

    "I'm saying after your task is finished, let's do these pointless things one more time.”

    He had wanted to give her more happy memories. He had wanted to spend more time with her.

    He had wanted to see her smile again.

    “Okay! When everything’s over, let’s come here again! It won’t have any meaning, but I’m sure it will be really, really fun!”

    And so.

    “That’s right.”

    In the classroom bathed by the sunset -

    “It’ll definitely be fun.”

    The vampire princess smiled and made a promise with the young boy.

    (X)

    Shiki took in a deep breath as he looked out at the city, the first bright rays of the dawn sun only just beginning to peek out from behind the spires of the taller office buildings in the distance. He had gotten up a lot earlier than normal today. Well, he’d told Hisui to ensure that he was to be out of bed by six at the latest, even if it involved pouring ice water over his face.

    Akiha had been up by then, of course, but she hadn’t said anything to him as he entered the sitting room. There had merely been a single drawn-out sigh of irritation as Shiki picked up the basket that Kohaku had left on the table. Only when he had reached the doorway did she speak up.

    “Nii-san.”

    “Yes, what is it, Akiha?” he’d turned back to face her, the question on his lips.

    “Have fun.”

    She had never raised her face from the document that she was going through.

    Nevertheless he had smiled. “I will. Thanks, Akiha.”

    And now here he was, walking down the street as the city stirred and began to slowly come to life all around him, the first of the businessmen and women starting to step out of their homes.

    He made his way at a steady pace to the apartment block – a place he’d come to know very well. Without even pausing to look at the numbers on the doors, he made his way to one particular home and rapped on the door once.

    The was the light thud of footfalls from within, and then the door was thrown open, and Shiki had the vague impression of a white blur rushing at him, and suddenly, he felt arms wrapping around his back, and a warmth pressing against his body from the front.

    Not for the first time, Shiki wondered how the vampire princess, a being so impossibly powerful, someone as cold as vicious as her in combat, someone born as a living avatar of the planet itself –

    Could feel so soft and warm and, well, cuddly, in his arms.

    “Good morning, Arcueid,” he said softly, a smile on his face.

    “Morning, Shiki!” she beamed at him as she pulled away so she could look him in the eye. “You’re early!”

    A sheepish chuckle as he rubbed the back of his head. “Actually, I thought it might take a while to wake you up, so…”

    A pout appeared on her face. “Hey, Shiki, what do you take me for? I’m not like you who breaks a promise to sleep at home. I’ve been up since three getting ready!”

    “Arcueid, I told you that – wait, three?” he stared at her. “Why did you do that? If you’d gotten up so early, you should have just went back to sleep.”

    “Yeah, I thought about doing that,” stepping past Shiki, Arcueid looked up at the endless blue sky. “But as I was lying down on the bed, I kept thinking about all the things we could do today, and I got so excited that there was no way I could go back to sleep.”

    “But still…”

    “I’ll be fine, Shiki!” in the early morning, her bright smile was blinding. “I don’t get tired easily. Not anymore. So let’s go,” reaching out, she grasped his hand tightly. “You’ll be taking me many places today, won’t you?”

    “That’s right,” he affirmed with a nod. “Let’s go.”

    Hand in hand, the two of them exited the apartment. A new day awaited the both of them.

    (X)

    Breakfast was at the park. In the basket Shiki had brought was a large tablecloth, enough for the both of them to settle themselves down comfortably as Shiki opened the sandwiches and juice that Kohaku had made for the both of them.

    “Here,” he handed her a piece, and Arcueid looked down at it, a curious expression on her face.

    “Hey, Shiki, who made this?”

    “Hm? Oh, one of the maids at the mansion where I live. Her name’s Kohaku. Don’t worry, she’s a fantastic cook.”

    “Oh,” she nodded thoughtfully. “I thought you were the one who’d made them.”

    Shiki chuckled and shook his head. “Sorry, Arcueid, but I’m not that good a cook.”

    “Oh, is that so?” Arcueid lifted the sandwich to her mouth and took a bite. Chewing slowly, she spoke up again. “Still, I think I’d like it if you made breakfast for me.”

    There was a moment of silence on Shiki’s part. Then he laughed. “Sure, Arcueid. Some other day, though.”

    “That’s right,” Arcueid smiled and nodded as well. “These sandwiches are really good, though.”

    “Aren’t they?” finishing the first one, Shiki dipped his hand into the basket once more, Shiki drew out another pair. “I wasn’t sure what kind you’d like, so I asked Kohaku to make a variety of them. Here, this one has tuna in it.”

    And for a while, the two of them simply sat on the grass, eating their breakfast, watching people filter into the park, whether to exercise or to walk their pets or simply to hang out.

    Glancing at a couple who were busy walking their dogs through the park, Shiki absentmindedly raised his sandwich to his lips. It wasn’t until he felt the soft strands of hair brushing against his cheek that he realized Arcueid had leaned forward and began to nibble at his own sandwich, with the consequence that her face was less than five centimetres away from his.


    “A – Arcueid!” he jerked away, feeling his face grow hot. Up close, her ruby eyes were captivating.

    She stared at him with innocent curiosity. “What? I just wanted to see what your sandwich tasted like.”

    “You could have just asked! There was no need for you to come so close like that!”

    “Oh?” her head was cocked to one side now. “I thought you liked it when I was close to you.”

    “That – that’s not – it’s different when –“ he sputtered, certain that he had to be as red as a tomato by now. “Just don’t do that again, okay?”

    Arcueid laughed lightly. “All right, if you say so, Shiki.”

    Taking a deep breath to calm himself down, Shiki finished his sandwich, trying not to think of gorgeous red eyes that shone with warmth as they looked at him.

    (X)

    A short return to Arcueid’s apartment to drop off the now-empty basket, and then they were off again, walking hand-in-hand down the main street.

    “A department store?” Arcueid was, as usual, all inquisitiveness and questions. “What’s there to do in here, Shiki?”

    “Well, buying things, of course,” Shiki scratched his chin nervously. He’d planned to come here on the unspoken understanding that most girls liked shopping and buying things, but on the other hand, Arcueid wasn’t like most girls, was she?

    Well, it wasn’t like he could turn back now, so he faced her with an encouraging smile. “It’s mostly for shopping. There’re a lot of different stores here selling different things,” most of it clothing. “There’s also a movie complex at the top floor, and I’ve gotten us tickets for a show later.”

    “Okay!” she laughed. “That sounds interesting. Come on, let’s go see what there is to buy!”

    As they stepped into the store, Shiki instinctively winced at the blast of cold air that seemed to always line the entrances to these kinds of places. Once he was past that minor hurdle, he realized that he had stepped into the ladies’ department, and the two of them were staring at row upon row of clothing.

    “Wow,” Arcueid breathed out as she took a step into the maze of racks and shelves and boxes. “There’s so much stuff in here.”

    Not for the first time, Shiki reflected that the only clothes he had ever seen Arcueid wear was her combination of a white sweater and a long, purple skirt. Not that the elegant simplicity of the design didn’t match her very well, but, still…

    “You don’t have many other sets of clothing, do you?” he questioned as he matched her pace.

    “No, not really,” Arcueid smiled at him. “Whenever I went out before, I usually just picked something that fits the society that I would be entering. That’s all I really know about clothing – how to make sure it looks inconspicuous.”

    Silently, Shiki reflected that someone like Arcueid remaining inconspicuous in a place like Misaki City was always going to be an impossibility, regardless of choice of clothing. Aside from the obvious tells like the colour of her hair that marked her as a foreigner, her stunning beauty caught the gaze of almost everyone from the mere act of walking down the street – something Shiki had witnessed personally on more than one occasion.

    Leaving that thread of thought aside, he nodded and looked Arcueid. “Well, now that you’ll be spending more time in one place here… would you like to buy some new clothes?”

    She looked at him, a question in her eyes. “But all my current clothes are still fine, Shiki. I don’t need new clothes.”

    “It’s not about need, Arcueid,” silently, he wondered if he really should be prodding her down the path of becoming a mall rat, but he’d always felt that this would be the sort of thing she’d enjoy. “A lot of the time, people buy clothes because they just want to try something different, and they want to look good.”

    “L – look good,” Shiki hadn’t expected Arcueid to suddenly turn away with an uncomfortable expression on her face.

    “Arcueid?”

    “I… I don’t really understand human beauty, Shiki,” she gave him a bashful smile, a faint tinge of pink gracing her cheeks. “Like that time in the park when you told me about how people would naturally want to talk to me because I was incredibly beautiful. That was the first time I’d ever thought about how I looked to other people,” her gaze roamed down the rows of belts and shoes and blouses and skirts. “What would look good on me? That red skirt? Or that black one? I really don’t have any idea.”

    “…” Shiki was silent. Damn it, I thought that this would be a nice way to help Arcueid get more acclimated into human society, but all I’ve done is remind her of how different she is from humans. I screwed up…

    Then, intruding on his thoughts, came a light chuckle, and he looked up to see Arcueid with her familiar smile on her face.

    “I guess that’s why I’m so lucky that you’re here with me, huh, Shiki?” taking his hand, she led him along the aisles. “I can ask for your help to see what looks good on me!”

    “M – my help?”

    “Of course!” her smile grew even wider. “After all, if I’m going to be buying new clothes, the person I’d want to look good for is you, Shiki!”

    He felt his face go warm again, and he turned away hastily. “O, of course helping you won’t be a problem!” he sputtered, a trifle hastily.

    “Shiki?”

    He let out a long breath, and the next time he looked up, his own smile was gentle. “Well, what about that black dress over there?”

    “Huh? That one?”

    “You’re always dressed in white, so I thought it might make a good contrast,” mentally, Shiki envisioned the soft whiteness of her skin contrasted against the deep black of the dress hanging on the rack. “Of course, the choice is up to you. There’s a dressing room over there that you can try if you want.”

    Arcueid was silentl as she lifted the article of clothing from the rack delicately, like it was some fragile creature that she had to handle with care. With a quick look at Shiki, she quickly entered the dressing room, leaving Shiki to wait outside.

    As he waited, he silently pondered the afternoon. The movie would start at eleven, and at two hours long, it would end just in time for them to have lunch together. And after that…

    “So, how do I look?” came the hesitant voice as the door to the dressing room creaked open and Arcueid stood in the doorway, one hand reaching down to smooth the creases on the dress. Shiki paused and blinked as he took in the sight.

    It wasn’t that the dress was elaborate – indeed, most of the material was plain and unadorned, with only the cuffs, collar, and hem of the skirt being frilled with a deep blue trim. A set of three ebon buttons at the neck completed the look. In practice, the effect was if Arcueid had stepped out from another time entirely.

    “I think you look great,” he smiled at her. “Is it comfortable!”

    “Oh, yes!” she nodded enthusiastically. “The material’s really soft, and it’s lighter than the sweater, too! I think I want to buy this.”

    He chuckled lightly. “No problem. The cashier’s over there.”

    Several minutes later, Arcueid was carrying a tightly rolled up bundle as they stepped into a shoe store. Shiki glanced at his watch. They still had about an hour of time left. Plenty of time.

    (X)

    “Hurry up! We’re going to be late for the movie!” Shiki yelled as Arcueid sprinted behind him.

    “I couldn’t help it, ShikI! All those building blocks were so much fun to play with!” Arcueid called back, not even out of breath.

    “I knew I shouldn’t have brought her to the toy department,” Shiki muttered to himself as they rounded the corner and the ticket booth came into view. Still, it had been a pretty impressive feat to see Arcueid construct a Lego replica of what she claimed was her ancestral home, somewhere deep in the mountains.

    Well, now wasn’t the time for that. Hurriedly, Shiki collected the tickets he’d reserved, and he and Arcueid made their way into the already-dark theatre, whereupon he slumped onto the seat, panting for breath.

    “Hey, Shiki,” from beside him, Arcueid lifted the jumbo soda to her lips and took a sip. “I didn’t get the chance to ask, but what kind of movie is this?”

    “Huh? Oh, it’s supposed to be some kind of vampire love story,” Shiki rubbed the back of his head. “I didn’t actually get a lot of the details, but Arihiko recommended it to me. Said it was the comedy of the year or something.”

    “A vampire love story?” Arcueid repeated.

    “Well, a human falling in love with a vampire and vice-versa, I guess.”

    “I see…” Arcueid laughed. “It’s like the two of us, huh?”

    “… Yeah, I guess it is.” Shiki nodded as the screen flickered to life in front of them.

    (X)

    The two of them walked out of the theatre in silence, strolling amongst the groups of people that had walked out around them.

    “Shiki?” Arcueid was the first to break the silence.

    “… What is it?”

    “I… don’t think I’ve ever heard any stories or legends of Dead Apostles that sparkle in the sunlight.”

    Shiki shook his head. “Me neither.”

    The two of them were silent for a few more minutes.

    Then, “Let’s… just go get lunch.”

    “Yeah,” Arcueid nodded quickly. “Let’s.”

    (X)

    “Hey, Shiki, what are you looking at?”

    “Hm? Oh, just this advert. I swear, this place comes up with a more ridiculous jumbo burger every month.”

    The two of them were now in a fast food place, near one of the city’s central crossroads. At a window seat that afforded them a view of the city’s lunchtime rush, Shiki lay the flyer down on the table.

    “What are you getting, Shiki?” Arcueid said as he stood from his seat.

    “Hm. Probably my usual,” he answered. “Cheeseburger, some fries. Really, I just need to get some energy for this afternoon,” he paused. “What about you, Arcueid?”

    “Hmm…” she glanced down at the advert that Shiki had left on the table, a mischievous twinkle in her eyes. “I think I’ll take this,” one finger stabbed down on the picture in the middle, and Shiki’s face paled.

    “The Double Baconator Supreme? Arcueid, are you sure? I’ve seen those… things. They’re as big as your head.”

    She grinned up at him. “Oh, really? This should be fun, then.”

    Shiki sighed. “Well, it’s your choice,” he said. “Just be careful.”

    “Oh, you worry too much!”

    (X)

    “Well, where are we going next, Shiki?” Arcueid whirled to face him, an excited expression on her face.

    “…” wordlessly, Shiki pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose as he stared at Arcueid, wondering where in her slim body she could have possibly put that much meat. She had consumed that burger without slowing down at all and didn’t appear to be affected in the slightest.

    “Shiki?” her question broke through his musings, and he shrugged and smiled.

    “The trains,” he indicated the station that they were now standing under. “We’re going near the city’s boundary, so we’ll need some transportation.”

    Buying tickets and getting onto the train was a simple affair. And though the train was initially crowded, the fact that the two of them were heading out of town, away from the business districts, meant that the carriage they were in quickly emptied themselves out, leaving only Shiki, Arcueid, and someone who appeared to be dozing off at the far corner of the carriage.

    As the train moved smoothly along the track, Shiki noticed that Arcueid was silent, and had been so ever since they had first entered the carriage. Turning to face her, he realized that she was staring out the window at the city as it whirled past her, her eyes wide with delight as she took in the sight.

    After a brief moment of hesitation, Shiki turned and leaned back in his own seat, a smile on his face.

    (X)

    “People ride that everyday?” Arcueid clapped her hands together with delight as she stepped off the train. “Imagine! Always being able to see the city like that.”

    “Yeah, most of them don’t really pay much attention to the view, though,” Shiki admitted as he followed after her. “They’ve seen it so many times already.”

    “Yeah, but I bet that with so many different lines, you’ll get a huge number of things to see too!” Arcueid laughed gaily before turning to Shiki. “So, what’s this next place you’re taking me?”

    Chuckling, Shiki turned and pointed towards the sign at the exit. Arcueid pulled to a halt.

    “A zoo?”

    “That’s right,” he paused. “Before we go in, Arcueid, just… call it a ground rule, okay? Never, ever jump over the fences , no matter how cute some of the animals look. Stick close to me at all times.”

    Arcueid gave Shiki a dissatisfied look. “What’s that about, Shiki? You don’t think I have the self-control to not do something like that?”

    His laugh was a nervous one. “Just call it a precaution.”

    (X)

    “Arcueid?”

    There was no reply.

    “Arcueid.” The second call was louder, more plaintive.

    She never so much as twitched a muscle.

    “Arcueid!” as he called her for a third time, he also placed a hand on her shoulder.

    “Huh – wha?” she whirled to look Shiki in the eye. “What is it, Shiki?”

    “Well, it’s – you’ve been staring at that particular enclosure for a while now. Is anything the matter?”

    Arcueid turned away from the jaguar exhibit. “No, nothing much. It just gave me an idea, of sorts.”

    Shiki blinked, but let it go. “I’m actually a bit surprised the first place you wanted to visit was the big cats enclosure. I’d have thought you’d want something… I don’t know, cuter.”

    She laughed. “I can save that for later, can’t I?” she turned to him. “I kinda want to visit the aquarium, though. The last time there was an advertisement for the penguins. They looked really funny.”

    “Is that so? Well, we’re in luck,” Shiki fumbled for the brochure he had snagged from the entrance. “There’s supposed to be some kind of seaworld show starting in about fifteen minutes.”

    “Really? Then what are we waiting for, Shiki!” breaking into a run, Arcueid headed down the path, leaving him to catch up with her.

    (X)

    “It’s amazing,” Arcueid murmured as she leaned forward, her elbows resting on her knees and her chin resting on her balled-up hands.

    “What is?” Shiki questioned as he handed her the hotdog he’d bought from the vendor.

    “Those seals,” a delighted smile split Arcueid’s face. “Look at how well trained they are! Their swimming is synchronized, and it’s almost like they can understand what their handler is saying. I wonder how much time they spent training them to be able to do this.”

    Shiki shrugged. “I don’t know. Personally, I was never really interested in this watching animals perform. I’ll admit that the guy really knows what he’s doing, though.”

    Arcueid was silent for a few more moments as she stared at the seal jumping through hoops. “Hey, Shiki?”

    “Hm?”

    “Do you think they’re having fun?”

    Shiki paused and looked at the animals splashing in the water. “I think so,” he said softly. “I think so.”

    (X)

    The sun had started to set by the time they left the zoo, Arcueid still gushing about all the animals they had met.

    “And the elephants! Their ears were so thick and rubbery when the keeper let me go up and scratch them, and the way they moved was so funny-“

    “And then it patted you on the head with its trunk,” Shiki laughed at the memory. “I wished I’d had the foresight to bring a camera with me, Arcueid. The look on your face was priceless.”

    They stood on the railway platform, waiting for the train that would return them to the heart of the city.

    “Did you have any other plans?” Arcueid looked over at him.

    “I got us reservations for dinner at a restaurant back in the city,” Shiki looked over at her. “That’s if you’re still willing to spend more time with me, of course.”

    He felt Arcueid latch onto his arm, holding her own body close to Shiki’s. “Always,” she said softly.

    (X)

    Breakfast had been a quiet picnic in the park, with time to bask in the slow rise of the sun and warmth of morning. Lunch had been quick and expedient, a quick boost to keep them going. Dinner would be a lavish affair. That had been the plan.

    They were led to a corner booth of the restaurant and allowed to settle down. The lighting and the music was soft, with the polished wood of the table gleaming slightly in the dim light. Sinking back into the cushioned upholstery of the booth, Shiki glanced out the window, where the sun had already set, blanketing the city in a swath of deep blue.

    “It’s funny,” Arcueid mused as she accepted the menu from the waiter. “Breakfast, lunch, and now dinner. All of them were similar, but now they all feel so different. I liked the calmness of the picnic, and the constant rush of the burger place, but this luxury is nice too.”

    He laughed. “That’s us humans, all right. We’ve so many different ways to take our food,” he flipped the drinks menu open. “Do you want anything to drink, Arcueid?”

    “Ice water will be fine, thanks.”

    They made their meal choices, handed the menus back to the waiter, and settled back to wait. Clasping her hands together, Arcueid leaned her head back into the soft cushion of the booth and let out a happy sigh.

    “You didn’t really eat much… before, did you?” Shiki questioned.

    Her eyes still closed, Arcueid shook her head. “No. It wasn’t something I ever needed to do, so I didn’t. The nutrition helps, I guess, but if I eat, it’s mostly for how good it tastes.”

    “Yeah, a lot of us do that,” Shiki shrugged.

    “By the way, Shiki?” Arcueid opened her eyes and leaned forward to look at him. “When are you going to introduce me to that sister of yours? I’d really like to meet her.”

    “Why’d you changed the subject for?” Shiki raised an eyebrow. “Anyway, about Akiha… let’s take it one step at a time. I barely got her to accept that I’m going out with you today, and that’s good enough for me.”

    Arcueid blinked. “Well, if you say so.”

    Shiki paused, pushed the glasses up his nose. If he was going to be honest with himself, he knew that this was a stopgap. If he wanted Arcueid in his life, he’d have to figure out a way to have Akiha accept Arcueid.

    If I wanted Arcueid in my life, huh. He could remember that cold night in the park, when he’d confessed to her.

    “I love you right now, Arcueid. That is my truth.”

    A smile crossed his face.

    That’s right. I still love her.

    That hurdle… is one that I’ll have to cross. For her sake.

    “Shiki?” Arcueid’s voice was probing. “Is anything the matter?”

    He raised his gaze to meet hers and smiled as he shook his head. “No. No, nothing’s the matter.”

    And then the food arrived, and the next few minutes were spent in silence but for the clink of forks and knives.

    (X)

    “Well, that’s everything I had planned for today,” Shiki blew out a breath of air into the cold night. “Come on Arcueid, I’ll walk you back to your apartment.”

    “Not yet, Shiki.”

    He turned to look at her. “Not yet?”

    She leaned forward and grasped her hand in her own. “I’ve followed your lead the whole day, Shiki. Now it’s my turn to bring us someplace.”

    A smile and a chuckle. “All right, lead the way, princess.”

    They made their way through the throngs of people, and somehow Shiki wasn’t the least bit surprised to see that Arcueid was heading in the direction of the park.

    As he stepped down past the steps that led to the bench and the central clock, he could still see flashes of movement and people walking around. With the end of the vampire murders, the night was starting to become busy again, even in quieter spots like the park.

    Finally, he and Arcueid was standing in front of the clock – in front of the place they had promised to meet.

    “Hey, Shiki,” Arcueid’s voice was soft. “Look at the time.”

    10:10 pm.

    “Looks like we were both late for our meeting,” he chuckled.

    “Seems that way,” she smiled back in return before turning and heading towards the nearby bench.

    “Arcueid?”

    “Shiki… I have something to tell you,” taking a breath, Arcueid looked up at the night sky. “You remember what I said to you when we made that promise?”

    “Yeah,” Shiki nodded. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget. You told me that it wouldn’t have any meaning, but that it would still be really, really fun.”

    “Yeah, that’s what I said,” Arcueid nodded happily. “But, I was wrong.”

    “Wrong?” Shiki paused. “Don’t tell me… didn’t you have fun, Arcueid?”

    “Of course I did!” she smiled. “Today was wonderful, Shiki. But, you know…” she trailed off, gazing up at the crescent moon.

    Shiki was silent.

    After a long moment, she turned her gaze back to him, an expression of serene calmness on her features.

    “It wasn’t meaningless at all. Today… today was meaningful.”

    “Arcueid…”

    In the half-lit darkness of the park, Arcueid’s smile looked radiant enough to dispel every shadow around them.

    “It was meaningful because I was able to spend it with you.”

    And before Shiki could react, Arcueid had pulled him close, her lips covering his as she drew him into a kiss.

    Finally, she pulled a way, contentment flooding her features.

    “I love you, Shiki.”

    He could feel a warmth on his cheeks, and a smile across his own face as he nodded.

    “I love you too, Arcueid.”

    And then, on an unspoken signal, the two of them embraced once more.

    (X)

    You know, when I think of an ArcxShiki romantic moment, I always envision them hugging more than kissing.

    Anyway, with that, I've fully completed my backlog of stories that were originally posted on FF.Net. From this point on update times will (usually) be once a week, around the weekend period. Hope that's okay with all of you!

    I hope you enjoyed this story, and I would appreciate it if you left reviews. Thanks.

    Next: Cursed

  15. #55
    夜属 Nightkin walrus's Avatar
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    I love this one. It looks like a real epilogue for Arcueid good end.

  16. #56
    Former Fortissimo Fan TLer Kratosirving's Avatar
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    Slice of life date is always good, and you made a nice warm and fluffy story with the right amounts of comedy sprinkled throughout it. Great job, pure!


    ...Also, lol at them going to watch Twilight.
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    I've always done and said what I feel and I don't let the opinions of others guide my actions. I've always marched to the beat of my own drummer and I will always march to the beat of my own drummer.

  17. #57
    後継者 Successor RanmaBushiko's Avatar
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    Very nice to read, and I enjoyed the nod to "The Satsujinki Cooking Diaries" on fanfiction.net, with Shiki telling Arc to not jump over the fence... well, if it was one, anyway. Still, great work, and I expect to see more great works like these all have been.
    I'm starting to suspect that talking with Kieran influences my rolls on Fate/Grand Order Heavily. How else can you explain me talking with him, then rolling for 30, only to get 3 Archer of Shinjuku on my second ten roll?

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  18. #58
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    I liked the nod to Arc's underwear drawer security system - now we know where she got the idea.

    And this is how the anime should have ended, damn it.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




  19. #59
    祖 Ancestor Flere821's Avatar
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    After reading this, I'm now firmly in the 'Shiki+Arcueid OTP' camp. Before, this pairing was just slightly ahead of the other options in my views.

    Great stuff. Things don't get much more better than this in terms of romance writing

  20. #60
    Jester of the Moon Cell's Sovereign Kieran's Avatar
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    No, they don't.
    “Love will be cruel to who it entices — love will have its sacrifices.”

    — Carmilla Theme




    "Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference."

    ―Jim Butcher, Vignette




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